Wiltshire Police pilots new approach to investigating serious sexual offences
Wiltshire Police has joined a national project to strengthen their approach to tackling rape and serious sexual offences, which has received backing from the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
The force will become one of 14 forces to adopt Operation Soteria Bluestone. Soteria Bluestone includes a Home Office funded research and change programme led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and involves police services working with leading academics.
Its aim, alongside improving the police response to these offences, is to create a national operating model which will be rolled out to all 43 police services in England and Wales. Themes include suspect focused investigations, identification of repeat and serial offenders, victim engagement, learning, development and wellbeing for officers, better use of data and digital forensics.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson said: “While many officers are doing their absolute best under difficult circumstances, the totality of the criminal justice system has, all too often, let victims of rape and serious sexual offences down, and whilst Soteria Bluestone does not offer an overnight solution, I hope this new innovation will assist Wiltshire Police to improve the service that both they, my office and the criminal justice sector provide to victims, both locally and nationally.
“We must ensure investigations and charging decisions are carried out in a timely manner and we must work together in the wider criminal justice system to try and get cases to court more quickly. We want victims to feel more empowered and have more confidence that their interests will be protected throughout the entirety of the criminal justice system.”
Wiltshire Police Detective Superintendent, Sarah Robbins said: “We are pleased to be one of the latest 14 police forces to join Operation Soteria Bluestone, contributing to developing a new national operating model for stronger and more efficient rape investigations.
“Alongside Dorset and Hampshire Police, we have been working in partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service for the past 18 months to improve our approach in this area. We look forward to working with the Operation Soteria team to further improve our support to victims and focus on the continual pursuit and prosecution of the people who carry out these awful crimes.”
We will make Wiltshire a safer place
“I have said many times that victims of rape and sexual assault deserve better, and I am confident that with this additional support provided to victims of rape and serious sexual offences by Wiltshire Police and my Office, and with a more robust investigative approach directed against offenders, we will collectively make Wiltshire a safer place to live, work and visit.” Mr Wilkinson added.
The expansion programme will build on the learning identified from the five initial operational forces of the Metropolitan Police Service, Durham Constabulary, West Midlands Police and South Wales Police, in addition to Avon and Somerset Constabulary who first piloted Operation Soteria Bluestone at the beginning of 2021, as a response to the Government’s end-to-end rape review.
Other Forces involved in the expansion are: Devon & Cornwall, Dyfed-Powys, North Wales, Northumbria, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Gwent, Kent, Dorset and Sussex.